HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits
It’s that time of year when many people are planning for summer festivities. But it’s also a great time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with hot temps.
Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does an awful a lot of work during the summer. Here, a Service Experts professional shares seven tips to consider when preparing your air conditioner for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A biannual HVAC tune-up can act as protection against future problems. While anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before maintenance crews get busy during the scorching summer season can undoubtedly help you head off costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also includes a status check for how your system is currently performing. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which helps you in case a key component breaks during the warranty period.
“Tightening electrical components, cleaning condensate lines, cleaning the outdoor and indoor coils, and lubricating necessary components, it’s all part of the annual checkup we do,” said Service Experts Field Operations Manager Mike Carson. “And, we’ll change your air filters and answer any questions you may have too. It’s the best small investment any homeowner can make this time of year.”
Don’t Delay Repairs
When a specialist recommends repairs during a tune-up or if they come up unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can extend the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This mindset, however, only leads to more expensive repairs down the road.
“Clogged lines, dirty filters, low refrigerant (Freon), loose or broken parts, you name it, it all contributes to how efficiently your system runs. It’s always best to address problems when they arise to keep it operating to its full potential,” Carson explained.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat may reduce wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to higher than 20%. Your best choice is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson advised, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that match with your daily schedule. In some areas, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently changing your air filter is critical; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. Certain types can be very restrictive, promising to catch or eliminate all viruses and contaminants. While they may effectively remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and potentially make your unit work harder. When you arrange your tune-up, it’s a good plan to ask the mechanic for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Clear Away Obstructions
This is not simply a tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstacles inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are hindered by furniture or household items, that can limit the flow of air into that room or area. That means your air conditioner will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can be a problem is around your condenser coil outside the residence. Some residents see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with shrubbery or even build structures or other landscaping. Bad idea!
“Obstructions to units and vents on the inside and outside of the home can be both an efficiency and safety concern,” Carson remarked. “Covering up or blocking return air vents, where the system draws in the air inside the home is another common problem we see. These things can be like asking your system to work harder while wearing a very heavy face mask.”
Don’t Overlook Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are vital to the well-being of your residence—and the people who live in it. Pollen and airborne contaminants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all stay inside your air ducts and cause issues for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signals your home might need an air duct cleaning:
- Mold was found in the home or on the inside of the air conditioning unit.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower is turned on.
- A renovation involving extensive dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your heating and cooling unit is nearing the end of its life, replacing it with a high-tech high-efficiency system before the hot summer weather is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” And while that has always been a good idea, it’s more true today than ever before.
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